Before hiring an attorney for the purpose of ending your marriage, you should be sure it's what you want. It should never be done immediately following an argument, spouse's confession or change in your marriage. This is especially true if the cause is uncharacteristic of you, your spouse or your marriage.

Consult an attorney to know your options

Consulting an attorney to understand your options and state laws may be helpful in making a decision to divorce or reconcile. It's important to understand all aspects associated with the divorce, settlement potential and problems that could follow.

You've been served

If your spouse has had you served with papers or asked for a divorce, you should consider speaking with a legal professional right away.  The attorney can help you understand the local process to divorce and, if you decide to do so, prepare a response upon hiring him/her.  

Online resources v. legal experts

There are numerous types of divorce and many options that can help you avoid litigation and costly mistakes.  While online articles ,like those on DMK, can help with general divorce related information, a local attorney is the best source for legal guidance. 

Utilize online resources to prepare to speak with an attorney rather than as a substitute for one.  This will save you money and time when consulting with a legal expert.  You will be better prepared for your consultation(s) and a more knowledgeable legal consumer. 

Don't hire when your emotions are in control

While the reaction may seem an appropriate response to initially consult with an attorney, don't necessarily retain him/her only as a reaction to the pain you are experiencing. You will be emotional during the process of meeting and retaining an attorney, but your emotions should not be completely in control.

If you hire an attorney to scare your spouse into "behaving better" or "to provide the love and commitment you need and he/she fails to provide", know that the tactic rarely yields the result you seek.

If it's a reaction to the pain of a recent infidelity or confession, you may want to call a counselor instead of an attorney first. Many spouses reach out for legal advice in a possible attempt to demonstrate the severity of actions of the other spouse. Instead, unless the other spouse has indicated a legal reason to get legal advice and protection, a cooling off period may be the best option.

Seeking legal representation should be done when you have employed sound reasoning and it is advised and/or advantageous to do so. There are many legal reasons to immediately hire an attorney, but most of the emotional ones aren't helpful.

Divorce may be a far reach from what you really want and if that is the case, it could present on-going painful obstacles to your immediate happiness. This pain will last until the divorce and marriage are behind you. This does not magically happen when your divorce is final. It can take months or likely years to recover.

If you rush into retaining an attorney and decide to reconcile, it could be a costly mistake that could have been avoided.

Hire a legal professional when legal separation or divorce is eminent

After considering the marriage, problems and situation you may have recognized a divorce is a possible solution to long-term happiness for you and your family. This may provide a happiness that can not be realized with your marriage intact.

We have prepared a list of considerations weighted heavily on the practical needs to support oneself, children, former spouse, household while maintaining resources necessary to cover legal expenses until a settlement is reached.

Considerations before legal representation:

Living situation (You can't do much without housing)

You will want to make sure you have a reasonable living situation and are prepared for changes as they may affect your housing and/or means to support it.

Finances (You won't get far without money)

You will want to insure that you have the means to support yourself while maintaining your finances (debts and household expenses) with or without your spouses income and/or can afford to provide support to your spouse if required in the separation and/or divorce settlement. Support to a spouse may include, but not limited to, alimony, maintenance or one-time settlement.

Children (Your family's happiness, support and housing must be considered)

You will want to insure your children will have a better and more stable environment with both parents living in separate households or parts of the home. You will also want to understand the laws of your state and the basics of child support, custody and visitation to be financially and emotionally prepared for the best and worst case scenarios.

Legal Expenses (What can you afford and does it match your circumstances?)

Attorney fees begin at the time of hiring. You will begin with a retainer and continue to pay your attorney according to his/her schedule of fees. While some attorneys may simply prepare your paperwork for an uncontested divorce for $1000 or less, others may have rates exceeding $250/hour with the total divorce expense escalating with, among other things, every legal motion or response. Often this comes about when one or both spouse's are in significant disagreement over one thing or another related to the divorce or marriage. So if your spouse is extremely unlikely to be cooperative you will want to consider the worst case scenario of legal expenses.

Interviewing a potential attorney

When it's time, you'll consult an attorney to get a broader legal view of your pending divorce. Your goal is to dissolve your marriage with the least amount of time, problems and money. There is no way to sugar coat a legal dissolution of a failed marriage intertwined with emotional drama and pain. So, from this point on, know that your attorney is your attorney and not your therapist. It's time to toughen up and speak law, or at least understand it so that you can get the best settlement possible. For the complete list of questions to cover in your interview, refer to our article, What to ask during your first consultation.

Topics to consider when shopping for an attorney

Choosing an attorney to represent you in a divorce is a very important decision. It helps to know what the majority of people consider when choosing an attorney to represent them in legal matters. Some of the most important things they consider are: years of experience, rates, case history, client testimonials, reviews on sites like Google®, Facebook® & Yelp® & location. For a complete list check out our article: What do people consider when hiring an attorney?

Legal Options (You understand the laws of your state as they apply to your case)

You have researched on your own, referred to our Legal Guide and consulted with an attorney who can explain how state laws may affect your case based on your current circumstances and expectations. This can include property laws as they affect division of assets, child custody and support, alimony, maintenance, "waiting periods", legal separtion requirements, annulments, etc.

Finally, you will want to have interviewed one or more attorneys before you hire the best one who has the background and personality that will be best, based on your circumstances. Having a plan to get through the various stages of planning for your divorce is helpful in knowing what questions to ask a potential attorney and what information to compile prior to hiring him/her. Most people find their attorneys on-line or by word-of-mouth. For assistance finding an attorney near you, utilize our Legal Directory.


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